Repeated national lockdowns have driven significant changes in the relationship between online and showroom motor retailer sales, according to iVendi.

An increasing number of dealers are embracing digital infrastructure, facilitating the development of a multi-pronged business strategy. Subsequently, dealers can jump between the two models as lockdown restrictions continue to fluctuate.

James Tew, iVendi chief executive, explained the importance of dealer flexibility in the face of unpredictability: “There is already talk that the new lockdown could last until March. That potentially means an entire quarter of the new year when digital click-and-collect will be the only option. Dealers have to maximise these opportunities to be viable.”

Whilst maximisation of online channels is key, there must be a “recognition that digital sales do not exist in a silo,” according to Tew. Dealers must remain directly connected to the showroom, ensuring both channels are equally productive upon a return to normality.

Referring to the refreshed sales model as connected retailing, Tew said: “This creates an obvious departure from the past. It means that increasingly, there is absolute flexibility between using online and showroom sales, supported by technology that makes such a relationship possible.”

In response to the pandemic, iVendi has witnessed a surge in popularity of online tools. During the first week of the November lockdown, the firm registered a 33% increase in use of its Digital Deals proposition when compared to the first week of October.

Tew continued: “However, what is perhaps the most interesting aspect of our previous lockdown statistics is not the 33% increase in deals being sent by dealers but the 24% rise in those being opened by customers. This shows how this proactive approach to digital is providing a valuable new sales channel during difficult trading conditions.”